Columbia, SC (WLTX) - State leaders have sent the U.S. Department of Agriculture a letter asking for permission to require food stamp recipients to use the federally funded benefits to buy only healthy food.
Right now the only items prohibited on the program are alcohol and tobacco products, any nonfood items such as, pet food, soaps, paper products and household supplies, vitamins and medicines, foods that can be eatten in the store and hot foods.
Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller says meetings will be held around the state next month to solicit public opinion on what restrictions should be enacted.
"What it's going to make sure is that we leverage our responsibility, that we leverage this important asset," Koller says. "That's a lot of federal dollars in our state. It ranges between 113 and 160 million dollars per month to the SNAP recipients in this state, and that's a lot of asset investment in South Carolina. We need to make it work for South Carolinians to help us make better choices."
Officials hope restricting what people can buy will cut down on obesity. South Carolina ranks eighth in nation for obesity rates and that number is expected to reach number five by 2030.